I was always very active and did all sorts of sports from a very young age. I spent most of my early childhood and youth playing competitively Volleyball in a sports club. Back then, cycling was more a means to move from A to B rather than an active sport I pursued. My commuting ranged from anything between 60-90 minutes each day, in snow, rain and sunshine, which provided me with year-round base training and bike handling skills that come in very handy now that I ride more competitively. I was 16 when I started working full-time which drastically reduced my time to train and attend Volleyball tournaments. After 5 years with my team, I had to find something more suitable that would fit in my increasingly busy schedule and settled for running, which I could do whenever I found a free slot. This was also about the time when spinning bikes came into being and my gym at the time introduced those really cool 90 minute spinning sessions held in a fairly darkened room playing trance and electronic music. Enjoying the party on the bike, I did a heck load of indoor spinning, complemented by daily bike commuting and trail running for the next few years. I never competed during this time. I was satisfied to work out simply to feel good and stay fit.
Hungry for an adventure I came to South Africa in 2006, to write my dissertation, work, and polish up my English, which back then was just good enough to order something to eat. During my first few months and without a car, I explored Cape Town’s soil by foot. It was a fascinating time experiencing something new every day. A couple of months later, I found an old mountain bike that I could borrow and started exploring the suburbs of Cape Town by bicycle. I took trips to Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and my favorite the Peninsula. It was probably on one of those rides that I fell in love with Cape Town and began contemplating to stay a bit longer.
I traveled a lot between South Africa and Germany the next two years, not sure for which country to settle. I completed my studies and was magnetically pulled back to Cape Town. Over the next two years I became more and more settled to the extent that I felt at home in a place away from home. I made friends, got myself a decent job to pay bills and studied part time for my masters with UCT. A few months later I met Pierre, who would become my husband 4 years later, and the decision to permanently live in Cape Town was a natural step.
The Beginning of Mountain Biking
It was Pierre who got me into competitive mountain biking. In 2009 he bought himself a Specialized Epic and joined some of the PPA races. I thought this was pretty cool, and bought myself a second-hand Scott hardtail for R4000. On one of our holiday trips to Wilderness, I got rid of the flat pedals and learned to use cleats instead, which obviously consisted of frequent dust bites and tons of blue marks for the first few times. During one of my first races, I fell so badly that my hand had to receive ten stitches. This was my baptism to mountain biking. Unimpressed of the little mishap I did more and more PPA races, where I quickly improved and even ended up on the podium. A year later I looked into getting a bike that was a bit more advanced, had proper brakes, functioning gears, less frequent tire problems and was not competing with my body weight. I bought a Kona Hei Hei, a full sus which also happened to be a 29er. Changing from the old Scott to the Kona was an incredible experience. I remember how I descended with the Kona for the first time and just rolled over everything without bouncing and slipping. I felt invincible on my new bike.
For the following three years, when I was not looking at spreadsheets and writing reports in my profession as a consumer researcher, I would ride my bike. The innate drive to an active, competitive yet fun lifestyle was what got me on my bike every day, even if it meant to rise at the crack of dawn. The desire to improve and test out new training methods to step up the performance was what eventually connected me with my coach Kate Slegrova. I was on her training program for over one year and experienced a steady increase in strength and endurance. My training has become far more focused and efficient with sufficient rest periods in between. Most recently I joined the altitude center in Sea Point (Concept Studio) which significantly boosts my performance, indicated by a continuously increasing power output. It’s a fun and entertaining way to get through the high intensity sessions, which certainly are not my favorite on the training schedule.
Cycling has become a central part of my life. It is no longer just a means to stay fit or get from A to B but has become a lifestyle that is intrinsically embedded in my daily routine. I often think about what it is that draws me so magically towards the sport and always end up with the same answers. It is simply a fantastic feeling to be in the nature while surfing trails, challenging one’s ability to push for new heights, and meet amazing people in the process. Like so many of us, I thought about how to turn my passion into a job, and finally in 2015 made the decision together with a riding buddy of mine, to set up a mountain bike touring business accompanied by a sport apparel import venture. It is certainly nerve-racking and uncertain but determination and the love for the sport is driving me along the way.